Iran: In prison because they defend others

The Iranian regime buttons lawyers who help suffragettes, critics or demonstrators. Nasrin Sotoudeh is not the only one who now sits in custody.

Iran: In prison because they defend others

In February she had still defended protesters in court, now Nasrin Sotoudeh is sitting in prison herself. Civilian policemen invaded Tehran apartment of prominent lawyer and led 55-year-old. Sotoudeh was sentenced by a revolutionary court in absentia to five years in prison, leaving officials of her family as justification. Until this Orwell appearance of Iran's state power, neir lawyer nor her husband Reza Khandan, who posted whole thing on Facebook, had any idea of process in which she was allegedly transferred to espionage. A few days ago, three armed intelligence officers appeared on doorstep of detainees. They set everything upside down and finally took a few hair clips, printed with slogan "I am against forced veil".

Defending suffragettes, regime critics and demonstrators is now one of most risky activities in Islamic Republic. More and more Iranians are opposed to system, not only against headscarf, but also against incompetence of political leadership, widespread corruption and overwhelming unemployment. In order to deal with chronic protests, justice, police and state security are now increasingly pressing small crowd of lawyers and lawyers who are legally assisting people in ir revolt against State of God. More than a dozen of m now sit in prison, are threatened with lawsuits and cannot accept new clients. Most of hardliners are disturbing centre for Protection of Human Rights (DHRC), which was co-founded 2006 by Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi and which also Nasrin Sotoudeh belongs to.

The human-lawyer, in whose austere Tehran office a poster of Nelson Mandela hangs, already knows Iranian prison world. In 2011, she was sentenced for first time to eleven years in prison for defending protesters of green movement. 2012 European Parliament awarded Sakharov Prize, 2013 it was released. 60 MEPs protested last week in an open letter to President Hassan Rohani against re-arbitrary action against m.

In single cell you have to sleep on floor

Nasrin Sotoudeh is imprisoned in department 209 for political prisoners of notorious Evin prison, which is under Ministry of Secret services. The single cells are tiny, re are no beds or mattresses. The prisoners get two sheets and have to sleep on stone floor. They are escorted to toilet at end of cell gang with blindfolds, a room paved according to former prisoners with posters by Ayatollah Khomeini and his successor Ali Khamenei.

Her law colleague Mohammad Najafi has been in prison since January. He accuses judiciary of having informed public about violent death of a 22-year-old protester at police station, who is supposed to have committed suicide after an official presentation.

The well-known lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani, long-time collaborator of Shirin Ebadi and carrier of international Nuremberg Human Rights Prize, has already had seven years in prison. Soltani recently hit anor stroke of fate when his 27-year-old daughter Homa died of heart failure. The state tormentors allowed far to attend funeral. On video images of mourning congregation a broken and emaciated man is seen, who still has six years of single cell in front of him.

"Spreading propaganda against system"

His professional colleague, Hadi Esmaeilzadeh, who was sentenced to four years in prison in 2014, died in his cell of a heart attack in 2016. "I will never forget this great person, he has always defended us steadfastly, no matter how much he tried to humiliate him," one of his clients recalled.

Narges Mohammadi, Vice-director of DHRC Human Rights Centre, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2016 for "establishing a banned grouping" and "spreading propaganda against system". She's severely ill in custody. Her eleven-year twins now live in exile in France with her far Taghi Rahmani, a political activist who sat in Iranian prisons for 14 years. The authorities deny 46-year-old mor practically every telephone contact with her children.

And so recently arrested Nasrin Sotoudeh probably speaks on behalf of all imprisoned comrades when, in a previous letter to her husband, she reflects on meaning of her lifelong struggle for human rights. Everyone broods of course about his freedom when he is in jail, she writes. "Although my freedom is important to me, more important is fact that justice is trampled and denied." Therefore, nothing is more important than se many hundreds of Haftjahre, "imposed on my clients and or freedom-loving people, accused of crimes y have never committed".

Updated Date: 26 August 2018, 12:00

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